Friday, March 30, 2007
Shorts from the Carlisle School Committee, March 21
• School trips to China and Peru. Carlisle seventh graders may participate in a Chinese student exchange trip next year, said Superintendent Marie Doyle. Last year, 12 Concord Middle School students traveled to China, attending school, living with host families and touring the country. Doyle said the group may increase to 15 students, which would allow at least seven Carlisle students to join the group. Students were chosen by lottery and the costs were covered by the families.
School Committee member Michael Fitzgerald reported that the Concord-Carlisle Regional School Committee voted to approve Spanish teacher Eric Pohl's trip to Peru, from July 2 to July 13. The cost would be around $3,500, Fitzgerald said. Originally planned for juniors and seniors, he said it would be open to all students and possibly community members.
• Social Studies update. Carlisle School Librarian Sandy Kelly said students in grades five and seven will take pilot MCAS history tests this May. According to the Massachusetts Department of Education (www.doe.mass.edu) the tests do not "count" until 2009, meaning scores and performance levels are not reported back to the school. High school students will be required to pass the history MCAS exam in 2010 for graduation.
The fourth grades will incorporate Maya, Aztec and Inca studies into their Mexican unit this year, Kelly said. She praised seventh-grade teacher Erin Rooney for her use of a new textbook, A Little History of the World by E. H. Gumbrich. Originally written in German in 1935, it was translated and updated in 2005. She said it is not a traditional textbook, but reads more like a story.
Kelly said the library is constantly in use by students doing research and brought examples of students' projects. Committee Chair Nicole Burkel asked how she integrates the social studies work with technology, using Cyd McCann as a resource. Kelly said she works alongside McCann to insure students are doing smart web research. Not only does she list excellent web sites for research projects, she also teaches students how to recognize good information. "[I] require younger kids, second graders, to use books," she said.
• Class funds, graduation costs. Burkel, who is the parent of an eighth grader as well as chair of the CSC, pointed out that the current eighth grade has "at least $15,000" in the class treasury. "[The money] was raised by the Spaghetti Supper, with all the raffles, and by the seventh grade play," she said. Claire Wilcox, Assistant to the Superintendent, explained that the seventh-grade play is not a fundraiser. Burkel suggested looking at middle school class funds as a way to offset sports fees. (See "School fees inch higher," at right). However, moneys in class treasuries belong to the class, not to the school.
If the eighth grade does not donate a class gift to the school, Burkel continued, spending the total amount on graduation would be "excessive." "What are we spending $15,000 on for graduation?" asked Fitzgerald. Burkel said the money covers the rental of chairs, printing invitations, decorations such as plants, as well as a dance and a pool party. After more discussion, Doyle offered to speak to parents about how the class money is being spent.
Currently class treasuries are maintained in separate accounts by the Carlisle School Association. Examples of past class gifts to the school include: 1999 - stone bench; 2001 - tree and bird bath; 2003 - Husky mascot costume; 2004 - Corey Auditorium sound system and contribution to the Jimmy Fund; 2006 - glass-enclosed case for health offices.
• English immersion. There are three ELL students (English Language Learners) who will need services this fall, said Carlisle School Director of Student Services Karen Slack. Superintendent Marie Doyle discussed combining services with Concord, although the ELL teacher in Concord is part-time at this point. The students must, by state law, receive at least two and a half hours of direct English language instruction, Slack explained. However, the instructor does not need to speak the students' languages, which are Japanese, Russian and Dutch.
© 2007 The